EU to include rural emissions in climate policy
With the proposal also comes the obligation for each member state to adopt action plans on how they will increase removals of carbon and decrease emissions of greenhouse gases in forests and soils throughout the EU.
The proposal does not include a commitment for national emission reduction targets for these sectors. This may come later once the accounting rules have proven robust.
The forest and agriculture sectors are the last major sectors without common EU-wide rules.
"This is the first step to incorporate these sectors into the EU's reduction efforts," said Connie Hedegaard, Commissioner for Climate Action.
"In Durban all countries agreed revised accounting rules for these sectors. The EU is now delivering with this proposal. The proposal will also contribute to protect biodiversity and water resources, support rural development and have a more climate-friendly agriculture," she said.
The proposal for harmonized rules for the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions and removals in forests and soils will be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council under the ordinary legislative procedure.
Substantial potential for emission reductions
Forests and agricultural lands cover more than three-quarters of the EU territory and naturally hold large stocks of carbon, preventing its escape into the atmosphere, which makes them important for the climate policy.
Increasing this 'trapped' carbon by just 0.1 percentage point - for example through improved forest or grassland management - would remove the annual emissions of 100 million cars from the atmosphere.
Yet until now, the efforts of farmers and forest owners and their good practice aimed at securing carbon stored in forests and soils, have not been or only been partly recognized.
The reason for this has been the challenges that come with collecting robust carbon data from forests and soils and the lack of common rules on how to account for emissions and removals.
The accounting rules will provide new opportunities, for instance, to reward farmers for their contribution in the fight against climate change in the context of the common agricultural policy.
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